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George Little: A little advice before you get a new puppy

August 03, 2012 at 07:33 AM

The State Journal-Register

Deciding when to get a puppy can be complicated.

Many of us bring home a potential pet or hunting partner based on availability from an attractive breeding. When that pup is 7 weeks old and ready to be separated from its littermates, it’s puppy-time, no matter what the calendar says.

If you’re haven’t identified a specific puppy yet and are waiting for the “right time of year,” there are two schools of thought. The first is there’s never a bad time. The second is there’s never a good time. A new puppy is going to require the same care, attention and basic training, no matter what.

Despite the heat, this time of year isn’t all bad if you find a pup that meets your hunting and/or companionship requirements. This is especially true if your little ball of fur is going to be an outside dog. It can be half grown before the snow flies and will have experienced a somewhat gradual change in seasons.

Some say puppies whelped in the spring are less likely to be terrified of thunderstorms because thunder and lightning are part of spring weather they experience from birth. It’s a plausible, if unproven, theory that might be worth considering if your last dog shredded the screen door every time lightning flashed. Unless, of course, that dog was born in the spring — then all bets are out the window.

Choosing a puppy and acclimating it to your home can be a day at the beach compared to naming the little guy. Your kids will say, we’ll “get to” name it. You will eventually say, we “have to” name it. says, “Most of us put a lot of thought into naming our new dog or puppy. We realize our dog’s name will speak volumes about our own personality, insights, or sense of humor.”

Like many things, I had no idea it was that complicated. Neither did Toby.

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path name, several websites can guide you through the maze of “popular” names that you might wish to avoid. Currently, the most popular name for a male dog is Max. The most popular name for a female is Bella. If you like those names, have at it. After all, it’s your dog.

If your dog is going to be obedience trained, or field trained, pick a moniker that doesn’t sound like one of the basic commands you will teach. For example, trying to teach “whoa” to a dog named Joe might result in Joe coming to you wagging his tail every time you want him to freeze in his tracks.

It’s inevitable that someday you will be hollering your well-trained dog’s name at the top of your lungs as it disappears over the hill. Think beforehand about the bitter irony of finding yourself yelling, “Get back here, Rambler.”

It could be one of those trying times your hunting pals will never let you forget.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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